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The Enduring Value of Data

4-24-2023 | Vaughn J. Mantor


Sometime between 740 A.D. and 814 A.D., Abbot Waldo of Reichenau began collecting and copying manuscripts for the library of the Abbey of St. Gall, which was founded in Switzerland about 613 A.D. The library is still there (see the image below), and some of the manuscripts from that time have survived, including a set of construction drawings for a new monastery. The drawings were made between 820 and 830 A.D. They are some of the earliest known “blueprints,” i.e. design drawings done before construction, and the only such drawings we have from the dark ages between the fall of the Roman Empire (~450 A.D.) and the early Renaissance (~1400 A.D.), about a thousand years.


The monastery was never built. But today, some researchers are building scale models, based on the original drawings, and using period tools and methods. On his deathbed, the original architect may have mourned that his creation was not built. But unlike his contemporaries, his work is being used as intended some twelve hundred years later.


Below: The Baroque Room of the Library at the St. Gall Abbey.


What’s The Connection To Laser Scanning?


In the articles in Verify 3D’s library, we have stressed, that when properly used, the data that laser scanning creates saves a lot of time and money. It also saves time and money for a long time. Once again, when properly used. The value endures. Not like 1200 year-old drawings on parchment, but long enough; and longer than you might think. Some examples of enduring value follow.


This first example needs a little introduction. Projection Mapping is a technology used in very upscale entertainment. With it, one can make a building appear to disappear or appear to be transmogrified into all manner of strange phantasmagorical scenes. Special, computer-controlled projectors create the illusions. Unsurprisingly, it’s big in Las Vegas. According to DWP Live, Projection Mapping quality increases significantly when using a dense laser scan of the building façade. Our scanning techs have been involved with projection mapping events at three major hotels in Sin City: Caesar’s Palace, The Venetian, and Mandalay Bay.




Six years ago, DWP Live scanned a sizable portion of the exterior of Caesar’s Palace to form the foundation of a projection mapping display. A fly-through of the point cloud is just below. An advantage of laser scanning is the completeness of the data. If we scan a collection of machinery in the center of a shop, we automatically collect scanning data for everything in the shop to the limits of our equipment or the walls of the building. The scanner sits on a tripod, and scans everything 360° horizontally, 300° vertically.


This year, the event planners for Caesar’s Palace want to expand the area for the Projection Mapping for a larger, more elaborate visual extravaganza. They asked Verify 3D where they could place the projectors to cover a larger area of the hotel without blocking the line of sight of the projectors or causing other interferences. The data collected six years ago told the story. A little analysis by Verify 3D revealed the desirable locations for the projectors. (The projectors must be precisely placed in relation to the building and the point cloud.) It would have been a much more expensive job if more scanning was needed or if the original data were unavailable. The data are still valuable, still saving time and money, even after six years of quiescence.



What does one do with an old building that’s on a registry of historic places? How does one resolve the contradictory rules for bringing a building up to code and the rules for preserving an historic building? We have scanned a number of historic buildings (examples here) before and after renovation. The scans become a virtual, measured duplicate of the building, and they form the foundation of historic documentation that will last as long as desired.


From Conception To Destruction, And Longer


How should one use the laser scanning data in each era of a building’s life?


Conception: When owners and visionaries first conceive a project, they need information with which to make decisions. We have scanned open fields, empty lots, dilapidated and partially demolished buildings, and buildings in use, all to gather the point cloud and connected images that make decisions easier and faster. Depending on the project, the same scanning data will be used by everyone throughout the project, and it may be supplemented by scans of new construction.


Design: During the design of any structure that connects to another, such as a new wing of a hospital, engineers and architects make continual use of laser scanning point clouds and CAD models derived from the scanning data. They can be confident that the connections (structural, mechanical, electrical, et al.) between the old and the new will not be offset or cause other problems.


Construction: During construction, periodic scanning of newly installed structures and equipment verifies (hence our name) that construction matches design. This technique saves millions, and can reduce the number of field-detected RFIs to nearly zero. (In one project in Arizona, actually zero.)


Operation: During turnover and operation, the laser scanning data and models give maintenance and operations an easier time to learn the structure’s systems, and the data make renovations and smaller changes simpler and less expensive.


Damage: Sometimes structures are damaged by Mother Nature or accident or malevolence. Laser scanning data that was captured during construction can make an exact restoration possible. Even if exact replication is not needed, the data make the repairs easier and faster.

Destruction: Some structures are intentionally torn down. Laser scanning data from both the design and construction stages can be used to create a demolition plan that minimizes time, cost, and trouble while maximizing the safety of workers.


Beyond: Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters often destroy structures. At times, only rubble remains. If laser scanning has copied the building virtually, it can be rebuilt, exactly as it was. This is why Verify 3D has laser scanned a number of structures on the historic registries, both federal and state.


The fruits of laser scanning do much more than cut the time and cost of construction. They offer enduring value throughout, and beyond, the life of the structure.


If you’d like a personal explanation or demonstration of the ways laser scanning can help you, or if you’d like to speak with one of our clients, see our contact information below.

Because our experience in this technology dates to 2002, Verify 3D knows the most appropriate equipment to use on each project and how to use it for the best benefit to our clients. Much of the time, we use a Leica P-30 laser scanner, Leica Cyclone software for registration, and Revit for CAD modeling, but not exclusively. We use other makes and models of scanners, other registration software, and other CAD modeling tools, depending on the needs of our clients.


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